By Bev Schellenberg
A year-or-so after the Winter Olympics torch got snuffed out, community spirit is back in Vancouver, thanks to the Canucks. Where the many official attempts to reignite our sporting fervor failed, a simple hockey playoff series has done the trick. Greater Vancouver has decided it will party when it wants to, not when it’s strongly encouraged to.
And boy, were we strongly encouraged. Advertisers shoved the anniversary of the Olympics on unsuspecting BC residents like Viagra commercials, but the results were less than spectacular, especially given the many opportunities to get involved. Anniversary organizers suggested we have breakfast with John Furlong, see the cauldron relit, play street hockey in downtown Vancouver on Granville Street, check out the Olympic medals again at the Royal Canadian Mint Boutique, and skate in Robson Square. Or we could head up to Cypress Mountain to watch such things as “banner raising ceremonies.”
CTV offered the sedentary among us the “Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games Anniversary Special” and the documentary 17 Days. No one I know will even admit to watching either. February 26th was the unofficial anniversary party, and while there was a definite sputter of community joy and fun, ultimately it smoldered and died.
But now the patriotic sea of red and white that once blanketed the city has been replaced by blues and greens. The Inukshuk has been succeeded by a Haida orca. Children who once toted Miga, Quatchi, and Sumi stuffies on their way to school instead clutch fuzzy whales. Walk into almost any Tim Hortons and, in place of grumbling about the Olympics’ ridiculous costs, you’ll hear fury over Luongo’s unpredictable play, the Canuck penchant for long series, and those damn Sedin twins.
But we love the Canucks a little more with every game they win. As with the Olympics, my children and I can’t afford to attend the games and so we watch them on TV. Or we enjoy the spectacle online; even kindergarteners have started broadcasting their hometown pride:
I was amazed, after the Canucks’ Game 7 win over the Blackhawks, at the size of the crowds in the streets. And this was in the suburbs! I had a meeting at work on the night the Canucks played the Nashville Predators, in what turned out to be the final game of that series (2-1 in overtime for the local boys). It was sparsely attended, and we managed to condense the whole thing into 26-and-a-half minutes before rushing out to our vehicles to catch the last period. The streets were eerily quiet — just as they were during the Olympic hockey final last year.
True celebration originates when people choose to care about something — not from forced attempts to encourage pride. And it’s more fun that way, too.